Today, I had the gratification of listening to Selina Everson, Linda Belarde, and David Katzeek. The journeys of their ancestors, children, and communities exposed many emotions and I am grateful to have listened to the people of Southeast Alaska. Just by listening and observing the interactions and communication between our guests, I could feel the power of respect and their passion of place…I hope to use their words and apply them to my teaching.
There was one experience that stuck to me the most as a means to understand students. Linda, a long time educator at an alternative high school, described a circle with the teacher (her) on one side and any particular student on the other side. A line was drawn down the middle of the circle as the divider of knowledge, background, and experience. She then proceeded to describe the interactions between her and the student as arrows that stopped at the half-way mark, but then continued on the side of the receiver. This struck me because it portrayed the amount of control a teacher will have on a student. As teacher, we can deliver advise and our words of wisdom as best we can, but in the end it is the student who receives it and can interpret it in his half of the circle. I hope to connect with my students in many ways while understanding their half of the circle.
It was inspirational to hear that our education has made an effort to integrate Native language, arts, and include specialists in the schools. This is part of our Alaska history and I believe Tlingit values should be incorporated into all classrooms. We still have a long way to go, but I hope to be active in my part as an educator inside and outside of the school.